Cunard Centre closure causes alarm in Halifax business community

According to Halifax Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Patrick Sullivan, the Cunard Centre, by no means a super-sized facility, was actually one of the three largest event venues in Halifax.

"It adds real value for conventions, and large gatherings," said Sullivan.

RCR Hospitality Group operated the Cunard Centre for 15 years. Shannon Bruhm said the decision to close the facility was unavoidable.

"It is a large facility, 50,000 square feet on the Halifax waterfront that is sitting empty," said Bruhm, the president of RCR. "Nobody knows when there will be the business to support it re-opening."

Sullivan also said he is already giving thought to possible replacement venues.

"The Forum is going to be rebuilt, perhaps over-built and will have a multi-purpose facility," said Sullivan. "We have the convention center. We have hotels."

Event planner Lynn Buckley said the size of the Cunard Centre was an ideal fit. Its design helped attract business to Halifax.

"Somebody who has a three or five day meeting at the convention centre, might need an off-site event for 1,000 people or 2,000 people," said Buckley who added, that smaller-venue option for event planners has now been lost.

Sullivan said the closing of the Cunard Centre is one more added cause for alarm, when it comes to forecasting the immediate future of the hospitality and event industries.

"It is still an open question whether do you want to gather in 1000 person groups, for dinner," said Sullivan.

Sullivan said he believes, beyond COVID-19 restrictions, there is an ongoing hesitance by many people to gather in large groups.